On the Circuit

At NAB this year 4K (and 48fps and 60fps) were among the prominent topics, partly because prominent voices such as James Cameron and Red’s Jim Jannard made it so. 5/11/2012 7:36 AM Eastern

On the Circuit

May 11, 2012 11:36 AM, By Cynthia Wisehart

At NAB this year 4K (and 48fps and 60fps) were among the prominent topics, partly because prominent voices such as James Cameron and Red’s Jim Jannard made it so. On Sunday night, the REDuser party at the Tropicana made an interesting statement for 4K pro AV by commissioning a collection of high-resolution displays for around the pool/cocktail area. The large Panasonic flatscreen, a small Eikos monitor, and a 4x4 Planar videowall were among the chosen displays used to screen short films that were shot with Red 4K cameras.

Later, during the main presentation, Jannard and company emphasized 4K exhibition, and the audience saw a big gorgeous 4K image off a Christie projector via a Red 4K server. And while the emphasis was on 4K cinema projection in movie theaters, I felt that the displays by the pool told an additional and far more interesting story.

If anyone can grasp the potential of nontraditional screens, it would seem to be the Red crowd. Yes, everyone wants to be a filmmaker and see their work on a cinema screen in a movie theater. But these Red pioneers pride themselves on breaking conventional molds and chasing the future for the sake of it. Surely they see that there are many kinds of screens and many surfaces that have only begun to demonstrate their potential as objects of communication, art, and entertainment.

Jannard himself, famously rejected television commercials as a way to market Oakley, the company he founded. Some 10 years ago he considered cinema commercials. He considered video hangtags for Oakley’s products. He made stirring films that screened privately for shareholders in the custom theater at Oakley’s headquarters. There was digital signage in Oakley headquarters even then. Jannard probably didn’t know what pro AV was, but he was inclined to use it. The Red 4K laser projector he debuted at this NAB is a consumer product.

James Cameron was the other high profile projection spokesperson. He’s putting a lot of work into his partnership with Christie judging from the high frame rate demo at their booth. This screening was a series of Cameron’s elaborate tests of the benefits of high frame rate (48fps and 60fps) shooting, postproduction, and exhibition (or any combination thereof), in particular for 3D. So there was footage that was shot at 48—or 60, converted to 24—or not, double printed, sped up and/or slowed down. Again, the ostensible goal was better 3D for the cinema. But everyone who uses projectors can benefit from the higher temporal resolution these high frame rate tests represent. In fact, high frame rates have already been used on my favorite 3D theme park ride.

This NAB put the spotlight on both kinds of resolution—spatial and temporal—and raised the bar and the rhetoric on both. For my eye, it will be the increases in temporal resolution that will produce the irresistible pictures of the future.

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